Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I consider myself a novice crafter. I’m still learning from my community. One thing for certain is that I am a lot happier doing what I do today… then I’ve ever been in my life. My background and education is an engineer, I spent over 25 years working for a fortune 500 company.. reporting to work 12 hours a day. Eventually.. my family life suffered, my health was impacted, and I burned out. I lost myself in my work.. Selling on Etsy is part of my journey to rediscover who I am.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I’ve known Etsy for years and wanted to introduce handmade jewelry. I started selling on Etsy because I felt it was the best platform to showcase these products
What products do you sell, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
Our primary product is Handmade Jewelry. Recently in 2020 and a member of my shop decided to make a facemask. Our primary focus for making these masks is to provide low-cost high-quality face masks.
How was your experience in learning to craft, are you self-taught or did you have a mentor, how long did it take for you to be satisfied with your creations?
I am self-thought with training from local crafters and artists in my community.. primarily in Greenville, South Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina.
What was your original goal when you opened up an Etsy shop? What impacted your decision to start selling online? Do you consider online selling as a side-job, full-time job, or extra income to pay for your hobby?
My original goal was to sell as a side-job while I continue to explore options. What impacted me most to start selling was the art. I see so many beautiful and natural products on Etsy and I wanted to contribute.
Did you have any fears or reservations before opening up your Etsy shop? Were you worried about profitability or product competitiveness? What are some concerns and questions you had before you got started? How did you overcome them?
In the beginning, I just wanted to break even and build a group of followers. I had fears that people would not like my products. Once a few reviews came thru…my fears went away and I continued to work on improving the products.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
It took me 2 months to make my first sale. I had hope for 10 sales per month for the handcrafted Jewelry. We currently average about 20 sales per week.
Do you have a job outside Etsy? If not, are you able to commit full-time to online selling? How does your typical day look like? How do you manage time?
Etsy is still a part-time experience. I don’t think of Etsy as a job. I started first with Etsy and as a result of Etsy, a year later, I have opened an eCommerce store to expand product line and sales.
How does your manufacturing process look like for e.g. your best selling product? Do you create products ahead of the orders? Do you customize your products, if so how? What are the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?
Our best selling products on Etsy.. we create products for 2 weeks at a time. We currently do not customize due to the price range. I hope next year, we will provide customization.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
We price products using price minus cost of goods and estimated labor. The materials we use can vary in price and we are able to control the price by purchasing larger quantities. The challenge with this approach is the impact on cash flow. We’re constantly balancing how much material to keep on hand…. Another factor with our price is the cost to provide free shipping. We’re constantly monitoring this as the cost of materials and availability can be impacted.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
Nature inspires me. I like natural and sustainable materials. My #1 method is to travel to the mountains in Carolina and Tennessee and spend time with locals, crafters, and artists for inspiration and advice.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
We ship products internationally. We provide free shipping on most products in the USA. All shipping for Etsy handles using Etsy. We do struggle with international shipping, I feel the price is too high for our customers. For example, most of our products are under $20 and the International shipping fee is $13 USD. Because of the price of shipping. we’ve refrained from marketing to international buyers.
Are you worried about competitors? Does it impact your business in any way? If there are a lot of similar products, how do you make your own stand out?
I’m not worried about competitors. It’s expected and I do feel that Etsy organize their products to help promote value for each crafter.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
For disputes.. we believe the customer is always right. We refund or reship for all disputes and we make sure disputes are handled the same day. We’re actively communicating with customers during sales. We don’t do a lot of presale and post-sale communications… this is an area that we need to improve.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
Selling on Etsy has helped me with dealing with stress in my personal life. I’ve never felt stressed about dealing with customers on Etsy. I believe Etsy customers want prompt response and honesty.
How important is social media for your shop? What are some common tactics you use to promote your products? Do you spend money on ads outside of Etsy? How do you generate excitement/hype around your products?
I believe social media is important. At this time.. we’re using much social media for our Etsy store. We rely primarily on Etsy Search and Etsy Ads. For our website, we use Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook ads.
What are some things you don’t like about Etsy? If you could talk to the CEO of Etsy what recommendations would you tell him to improve sellers and customer satisfaction?
The international shipping process is the only thing that I don’t like. I wish we could find a way to have a fulfillment center that we could use in the UK, Canada, and other parts.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I’m still learning. I believe success on Etsy requires staying in touch with Etsy Trends. I’ve found it to be very useful. Also, the Etsy Checklist reminders have been a wonderful tool for preparing for various holidays and sale events.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
My number advice is to sign up for Etsy Community support. Etsy sellers are open and willing to share their successes and failures. My advice is to have patience…it will take time to get that first sale. Also, respond to customers as soon as possible. Quality products and excellent customer service will bring repeat buyers.